The last week has been a blast, because my favourite niece Gowri, who is studying in the University of Toronto, came here for a holiday. I have known her since she was a baby, and she and I have been like best friends for a long time. I used to take her out and pretend she was my daughter (with the permission of her mother of course- whom I am very close to). Despite the age difference, she and I confide in each other and above all, have great fun shopping together. This week we covered Holland Village, United Square and Velocity (nothing much there- pretty boring places unless you are a little kid or a sports-mad teenager respectively), Tangs and Centrepoint. We also ate out a lot, because the one thing Gowri really misses about Singapore is the food- chicken rice, nasi goreng, laksa, mee rebus and nasi lemak.
The nasi lemak was where we hit a snag. She was craving it so badly, but we just couldn’t find it anywhere. Maybe we were just looking in all the wrong places, but wherever we went, there was either no nasi lemak on the menu, or it had run out before we got there. We even tried at the airport just before she boarded her flight but the lady said there was no more left. Shrugging her shoulders stoically, Gowri left Singapore. This morning, the rest of us had nasi lemak for breakfast at the one place we didn’t try the whole week!
Like complete tourists, we visited the Night Safari and Sentosa. VERY expensive places. My credit card quivered every time I reached into my wallet for it. Pay for this, pay for that… next time, we are going to play tourist in the void deck of my HDB flat! And Sentosa is no fun anymore. It used to be an ideal family weekend place. Now it seems to be just for rich tourists. Here is how I think the vicious cycle is going: high prices –> fewer local visitors –> change attractions to get more tourists in and ignore locals’ needs –> jack up prices further –> tourists too smart to get conned out of their money –> visitor numbers fall lower… and so it goes. In an effort to break out of the spiral, they decide to chop down a whole lot of beautiful trees for another money-making venture: CASINO! I miss the trees that used to lift my spirits as the ferry chugged towards what I though was a magical island. I guess there is no going back now. In place of my trees is a wide ugly expanse of naked soil and greedy construction.